By Jake Donovan
Argenis Mendez will become the latest fighter to join the growing stable of 2011 Trainer of the Year Virgil Hunter, Boxingscene.com learned Tuesday afternoon.
The move comes as Mendez is set to begin preparations for his upcoming rematch with 130 lb. titlist Juan Carlos Salgado. The rematch takes place on March 2 at a yet-to-be-determined location in California, and serves in chief support to a heavyweight eliminator between Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne.
“We’re excited about training with Coach Hunter and for Argenis to learn from one of the top trainers in the sport,” said Jose Nunez, Mendez’ manager.
Mendez (20-2, 10KO) will join Hunter in Northern California on Friday, and will hit the ground running as they will immediately move into training camp for what will be his second crack at a title.
Hunter is best known for serving as the head trainer for Andre Ward for as long as the unbeaten super middleweight king has been boxing, pro or amateur. Their work together reached an all-time high point in 2011, when Ward topped Carl Froch to win the Showtime Super Six tournament as well as distinction as the true lineal super middleweight king.
With that came a slew of awards, including Ward and Hunter gaining year-end tops honors as fighter and trainer, respectively. Hunter has since seen a significant increase in clientele, including the addition of Amir Khan and Alfredo Angulo among several others.
Now included among the lot is Mendez, who was previously working with noted UK trainer Lee Beard.
“It’s a good move for Argenis, though he has learned a lot from Lee as well,” said Nunez. “We really like working with Lee and Argenis was able to grow as a fighter as a result. After discussing as a team, we just felt that a few changes were needed. The opportunity was there to work with Mr. Hunter, and we believe Argenis will continue to improve even more as a fighter.”
Mendez came up short against Salgado on the road in Mexico in their September ’11 vacant 130 lb. title fight. The night was a tale of two fights, with Salgado starting strong and Mendez coming on in the second half, including a 12th round knockdown. However, his rally proved too little too late once the scorecards were tallied.
The Dominican boxer has since scored two wins, including a repeat points win over Martin Honorio last July - having previously bested him in May '10 - to earn a mandatory title shot.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox